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Jacksonville Jaguars

Tom Coughlin is to blame for the Jaguars 2018 struggles

Zach Goodall

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Aug 25, 2018; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars executive vice president of football operations Tom Coughlin looks on during warmups prior to the game against the Atlanta Falcons at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

There are plenty of culpable figures inside of 1 TIAA Bank Field Drive for the Jaguars five game losing streak and 3-6 record on the 2018 season.

Blake Bortles looks lost at quarterback. The receivers can’t catch a cold. The offensive line has struggled run blocking. The pass rush isn’t getting home. The pass coverage has been getting shredded. Nothing is working.

It’s fair to blame the players creating negative impacts. It’s fair to blame the coaching staff for not getting the team out of bad situations. It’s fair to blame Dave Caldwell for building the team around a bad quarterback.

But the person who deserves the most blame at this point is Executive Vice President of Football Operations, Tom Coughlin.

Two years ago, the Jaguars made a nostalgic hire in bringing Coughlin “home”, years after the same team released him of his head coaching duties, in order to steer the ship. His role was created to manage the football team from both a roster building (draft, free agency, the 53-man roster and so on) standpoint, and a team-leading standpoint. Essentially making him the front office version of what Jon Gruden was hired to be in Oakland this year.

Either the Jaguars falsely advertised how big of a role Coughlin would hold, or he just doesn’t have the magic he used to anymore. And considering this quote from Jaguars owner Shad Khan, it’s safe to assume to former:

“Obviously, Tom would be making the final decision[s],” said Khan in Coughlin’s introductory presser in 2017. “What enthuses me the most is Tom welcomes the challenge of overseeing all facets of football operations, and given his roots in Jacksonville, combined with his experience and pedigree, there couldn’t be possibly anyone better to accept the challenge.”

The Jaguars entered the season fresh off of a 10-6 record, winning the AFC South and making it all the way to the AFC Championship in 2017. Things were looking great, as the defense was looking to repeat a historic 2017 performance and the offense was hungry to take the next step.

Instead… here we are.

The front office, with Coughlin having the “final say”, decided to build around an enigma at the quarterback position. Even with a booming run game and great pass protection from the offensive line last year, Blake Bortles was still an inconsistent signal caller who made as many “what the hell?” throws as he made great ones. There wasn’t enough proof to suggest Bortles could sustain the level of success he had inconsistently put together, but Coughlin and Caldwell bought in, and handed Bortles a three-year contract extension a month removed from the AFC Championship.

On top of that, the front office duo decided it was a good idea to address the future, rather than the present, of the team in the 2018 NFL Draft. In the first round, they selected a defensive end project player who would at most be a rotational lineman as a rookie rather than stepping in and performing at a position of need, such as receiver, tight end, or right guard. When the Jaguars did address receiver, the only position of those three big needs they ever selected in the draft, they took a project receiver in D.J. Chark. Despite his flashy tape, it was widely known Chark would not make an immediate, necessary impact that the Jaguars needed outside.

So, the Jaguars entered the 2018 season with several needs to help their enigma of a QB unaddressed. While Caldwell may make the picks, Coughlin was advertised as the guy who would ultimately have the ‘final say” on roster moves. The weaknesses of the roster fall in his lap.

With the roster that Coughlin has shaped, he also holds responsibilities to lead the players with Marrone. To maintain a healthy locker room, maintain a positive culture, discipline players as necessary, and ultimately, make personnel decisions.

The Jaguars have reportedly broken out in fighting in the locker room following losses. Four players were arrested in London following a bar incident at 4 A.M. A.J. Bouye ruled himself out of the Colts game without Marrone’s permission. Players such as Jalen Ramsey and Bouye have indirectly thrown blame around in press conferences and social media as of late. Not exactly the winning culture Coughlin could have possibly wanted to create.

And yet, there has been no public knowledge of discipline for any of these acts. Not even lost playing time.

Bortles, despite one of the worst four game stretches of his career, was benched in favor of Cody Kessler and significantly outplayed by the backup, yet never lost his starting job. Barry Church has been significantly outplayed by rookie safety Ronnie Harrison in coverage and angling to make tackles, yet there is no indication that Harrison could take Church’s job anytime soon. After trading a fifth round pick to thr Browns for RB Carlos Hyde, Hyde has received a meesly nine carries and barely received any snaps against the Colts.

All of these issues warrant personnel changes. But instead, the same staring lineup (minus injured players) have trotted out each week and alas, the Jaguars are on a five game losing streak.

There is plenty of blame to go around as the Jaguars have totally fallen apart. But the man who has “final say” on all things team-related deserves the most of it.

There’s an old rule out on the open seas, that the captain must go down with it’s ship if it were to sink. Well, the Jaguars look like the Titanic right now, and Tom Coughlin is their Edward John Smith.

Zach Goodall covers the Jacksonville Jaguars for the Locked On Jaguars podcast and website. Follow him on Twitter @zach_goodall.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars to open seven training camp practices to fans in 2019

Demetrius Harvey

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Jul 26, 2018; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver D.J. Chark (17) signs autographs during training camp at the Dream Finder Homes practice facility outside of TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars announced today they will be opening seven practices during training camp to the public. The first four training camp practices will be open to the public. Practice on Saturday, July 27, is open exclusively to Jags365 Season Ticket Members and is scheduled for 8:45 a.m.

The team’s first practice in full pads will also be open to fans on Sunday, July 28 at 8:45 a.m. All seven of the Jaguars’ Florida Blue open practices are scheduled to take place at the Dream Finders Homes Practice Complex on the northwest corner of TIAA Bank Field.

2019 JAGUARS OPEN TRAINING CAMP PRACTICES

Thursday, July 25 8:45 a.m. – 11:40 a.m.
Friday, July 26 8:45 a.m. – 11:40 a.m.
Saturday, July 27 8:45 a.m. – 11:40 a.m. Open exclusively to Jags 365 Season Ticket Members
Sunday, July 28 8:45 a.m. – 11:40 a.m.
Tuesday, July 30 8:45 a.m. – 11:40 a.m.
Wednesday, July 31 8:45 a.m. – 11:40 a.m.
Thursday, August 1 8:45 a.m. – 11:40 a.m.

Fans are required to register here for each training camp session and tickets will be given on a first-come, first-serve basis. Gates will open to fans at 8:15 a.m., 30 minutes prior to the start of practice.

Parking is available in Lots M and N, and concessions and merchandise will be available for purchase on-site Limited player autograph availability will occur following each practice.

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53 Man Roster

Jaguars 2019 position group breakdown: Running Backs

Brandon Carroll

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Dec 23, 2018; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette (27) runs down the field during the second half against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Similar to their quarterback situation, the Jacksonville Jaguars have attempted to answer some questions in terms of the run game in this year’s offseason. Jacksonville went through a full remodel in an attempt to add veteran presence that can sustain the ground attack if injury strikes the team yet again in 2019. 

Two years ago, the Jaguars were a team that led the NFL in rushing at 527 attempts throughout the regular season. Nearly 50 carries ahead of any other team in the league. On those 527 attempted the Jaguars saw heights in production not seen since the Maurice Jones-Drew. 

That production staggered in yardage and overall sustainability of the offense with their lackluster quarterback play last season. This was all due to the injuries of star running back Leonard Fournette and the majority of the offensive line. Without Fournette, the Jaguars only accumulated half the yardage in 2018 Fournette produced in 2017 with T.J. Yeldon and Carlos Hyde leading the affair. 

Being a strong part of the offensive system, the Jaguars win total saw a sharp decrease and the team swagger that carried them to the 2017 AFC playoffs had vanished.

Jacksonville looked to replenish their running back room and get back to the strong, effective run game they saw in 2017 that made them so successful. 

Adding Alfred Blue, Benny Cunningham, Thomas Rawls and more through free agency, as well as, drafting former Temple running back, Ryquell Armstead the Jaguars made a good move in adding reliable to back up Fournette in the backfield. 

Projected Running Back Depth Chart:
*italicized indicates starter, underline indicates picked up via draft/free agency
Leonard Fournette, Alfred Blue, Benny Cunningham, Ryquell Armstead.

Leading the pack coming into 2019 is Leonard Fournette. Fournette is a player that has all the major attributes to be a star player in the NFL if he could just stay healthy. Fournette missed eight games last season and seven due to injury which caused the Jaguars offense to stall in his absence. 

He is a player that combines strong downhill running with game-breaking speed. Abilities not many can combine nevertheless replace. He is a generational talent who looks to return to his rookie form in 2019. 

Fournette looks to be getting back on track this season and “refocused on football.” Him being able to stay on the field will be a huge plus for a Jaguars team that has struggled offensively for many years. 

The next two players on the depth chart are veteran backs Alfred Blue and Benny Cunningham. 

Blue being a signee from the Houston Texans roster and an experienced back who knows how to get yardage necessary to sustain drives. While receiving very little touches in the Houston offense he played the backup role well and was a reliable source of receiving out of the backfield.

Blue will be used more as a third-down back in the Jaguars offense. 

The same goes for Cunningham. Coming over from the Bears, which last season saw two top-caliber running backs in Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen sharing carries, Cunningham got lost in the shuffle. Cunningham is a great receiving threat out of the backfield and can play solid minutes in his role on his new team. 

Having two players that can play roles, and play them well is vital for any team in the NFL. Taking fatigue and potential injury into account getting Cunningham and Blue was one of the more important moves the Jaguars made this offseason. The Jaguars acquired two reliable backs for new quarterback Nick Foles to work with on downs where Fournette is not in the game. 

Next on the team’s depth chart is the Jaguars 2019 fifth-round pick out of Temple, Ryquell Armstead. In his senior year, Armstead scored 13 touchdowns and averaged nearly 6.5 yards per carry. Armstead’s progression through his college career was a sight to see. After starting his career as a bulkier strong runner, Armstead slimmed down to become a more complete back and utilized his opportunity at Temple to make it to the NFL. 

Posting 2,987 yards and 34 touchdowns over his career, Armstead looks to carry on those impressive numbers at the next level. Armstead is a runner with great field vision and patience behind the line of scrimmage. He bursts through the open hole and is willing to lower the shoulder to gain extra yardage. Armstead says that he models his game after former Giants running back Brandon Jacobs. 

He describes himself as an angry runner. “I run angry, I run violent. I look for contact— that’s something that makes me unique.” Armstead stated in an interview with CBS sports. 

The type of physical running Armstead brings to the table is something the Jaguars have had success within recent memory. That willingness to create contact and run hard for his team to succeed is an attribute any team would love to have with their running back. 

A player that very strongly resembles Leonard Fournette in terms of running style was a guy the Jaguars looked at as a potential steal in the fifth round. An aggressive, one-cut runner who can run over opponents or bounce it to the outside and take off down the sideline. 

Armstead had the second-fastest time in the 40-yard dash among eligible running backs at the 2019 NFL combine at 4.49 seconds. Being a player with blazing speed mixed with a downhill running style, Armstead could see minutes directly behind Fournette later in the season. Armstead is an intriguing prospect but his development as a pass-catcher out of the backfield will need to improve for him to solidify the playing time this season. 

While the Jaguars have many running backs on the roster, all of them cannot stay. Unless there is a huge jump of progression when training camp starts later in the month, Thomas Rawls and Taj McGowan have very little shot of making the team. 

After last season, the Jaguars have done whatever it takes to assure they have depth at this position. Being able to provide multiple sources of production is important for any team. By providing this depth, the Jaguars hope it can get the job done and they can return to the success seen in the running game just two seasons ago. 

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Jacksonville Jaguars

REPORT: Jaguars to sign former WVU WR Marcus Simms

Demetrius Harvey

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Oct 13, 2018; Ames, IA, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers wide receiver Marcus Simms (8) runs the football against the Iowa State Cyclones at Jack Trice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars have made a roster move signing former West Virginia WR Marcus Simms according to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network. Simms was slated to participate in the supplemental draft after filing the paperwork on June 20th.

Simms will make for interesting competition for the Jaguars as we inch closer to training camp. Simms accumulated 87 receptions for 1457 yards and eight touchdowns in his three-year career at West Virginia. Simms has also made his name known in the return game totaling 992 yards as a kick returner. According to reports, Simms ran the 40-yard dash in 4.4-4.49 seconds, with a vertical jump of 36″, a broad jump of 10-2 and three-cone time of 6.91 seconds. After his physical tomorrow, the Jaguars will have to make a corresponding move.

Simms will look to compete for a bottom-of-the-roster position with players such as Terrelle Pryor and Keelan Cole. If the Jaguars intend on retaining six receivers Simms will have a good shot at making the roster. By all accounts, Simms was a draftable player.

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